Many believe they have a brown thumb, when in reality some insight and understanding of plants, their biology and their original environments can turn any brown thumb green. Celebrate Earth Day and nature by learning about plants. Try your hand at plant parenthood and better care for your existing plants.
When ascertaining the needs of a plant, it is most helpful to learn about the original environment it is usually found in. When considering the plant's natural habitat, aim to mimic aspects of that habitat in your own home or backyard. Plants like aloe vera and cacti are usually found in desert climates. They enjoy dry weather and infrequent deep waterings that mimic the scarce desert flash floods they would typically experience in the wild.
Plants like the Monstera Deliciosa are usually found in humid tropical climates like rainforests. A domestic Monstera would appreciate frequent heavy waterings, with just enough time to dry out before it's next watering. Mist the shoots either daily or multiple times a week, keep temperatures warm and allow partial sun. A humidifier near tropical plants is helpful as is grouping them with several other plants to help maintain the moisture in the air surrounding them.
While considering a plant's original environment is helpful, you can also consider the structure of the plant as well. Usually plants with thicker leaves can tolerate more direct sunlight well. While the thinner a plant’s leaves, the more easily the plant will burn if placed in direct sun for extended periods of time. Thicker and firmer leaves can benefit from partial to direct sunlight. While plants with thinner leaves will usually benefit more from shade and indirect sunlight.
Understanding a plant's root system may give a good idea of its watering needs. The ratio of soil to plant roots is quite telling when determining watering frequency. For container plants that have been in the same pot for years or whose roots have grown into much of the space provided in its pot, more frequent watering may be needed as there is less soil available to hold moisture. Most root bound plants can benefit from sizing up their pot.
Seedlings prefer to have their soil constantly damp as their roots are so fine and small. Even a day of parched dry soil could be the demise of the seedling in many cases. More mature plants can manage less frequent watering as their root systems are established. Plants in bigger pots with more soil generally take much longer to dry out between waterings. When the first few inches of soil is dry, it may be time to water again.
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Nutrient dense soil is crucial to any plant's growth potential. Drainage is also important for root health. One of the main ways that those with a brown thumb hurt their plants is by utilizing the wrong soil for your plants preference. Again, it is best to consider the plant's natural habitat. For desert plants, their soil is usually sandy and rocky so a well draining soil that is aerated with a medium such as pumice beads or perlite is best. While for certain plants that may be found naturally growing in the muddy waters of a lake or river could benefit from a high moisture soil that contains silt and clays. When in doubt, most plants can tolerate soil that lands right in the middle between well draining and moisture retaining.
Since all fertilizer may not be applicable to every plant be sure to research the best fertilizer for each of your plants. You may need to use a few different fertilizers to sufficiently feed various types of plants during their growing season. For example, plants that are susceptible to chemical burn usually suffer if a generic fertilizer is used. Orchids are best fed with Orchid specific fertilizer. Even during the resting season, some plants still prefer to be fertilized every 1-2 months. Look for details such as N-P-K levels of the fertilizer to match the preferred levels of the plant or plants you are caring for.
By tailoring plantcare habits to mimic a plants natural environment, researching the needs of each specific plant species you intend to care for and learning more about plant signs of distress, any brown thrumb can become green! Enhance your space, do good for the environment and improve your health with plants. There are so many benefits to caring for plants. Utilize these tips to help your garden or container plants. Happy growing season!
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